Through the Ranks: Nick Schloesser


“When I go out in the field and work a valet shift I feel rewarded when I go home. Customer service is something that I really enjoy doing deep down.”


Meet Nick Schloesser, our Western Massachusetts Regional Manager. Nick manages roughly 100 employees, including 10 Location Supervisors. In addition to overseeing the daily operations of the region, Nick is responsible for creating the region’s schedule and handling Special Events within the region. He came to VPA in the beginning of 2006 as a valet attendant, fresh out of college. Recently, we sat down with Nick to share the story of how he turned his entry-level valet job into a career in management.

What were some of the locations you were working at when you first started?

I started at Baystate Medical Center. I really got along with everybody that I was working with at Wesson and Daly and I worked there pretty consistently. I was regularly at Bay State during the week and working the Delaney House on a Friday night. Eventually I was able to kind of manage Wesson here and there when the regular manager was on vacation. The recognition made me feel good about the job.

So from there were you able to start taking on even more responsibilities?

I really started taking on more responsibility once I moved to Albany, when we started valet service for St. Peter’s Hospital. I started here in January 2006 and in September, 9 months later, I was on my way to Albany. I kind of wanted a change of scenery and this was a good opportunity.

So you were part of that start-up crew?

Brian [Hiltpold, Capital New York Regional Manager] and Micky Dumais [Worcester area major account manager] went out there probably a month before I got there. We had originally started working with St. Peter’s doing their employee shuttling, and we did such a great job with that that they wanted us in there for the valet. So when that started I was there for day one of valet. Eventually I grew into an Assistant Manager role over at St. Peter’s.

Where did you go from being the Assistant Manager at St. Peter’s?

I was out in Albany for four years. I was kind of hanging around for Albany Medical Center because we were promised that we were going to be starting there and that actually ended up being a while. We started with the shuttle service at Albany Medical Center and were anticipating adding valet service as well. That started in ’09 and I was a manager over there for about a year. I came back to Springfield January 1st, 2010. I wasn’t unhappy with anything in Albany. I was making great money and I was working with great people. I just wanted to be back home and go back to school.

Once you returned to Western Massachusetts, what type of role were you able to settle into after gaining some managerial experience in Albany?

When I came back there wasn’t really any place for me to go. I was kind of bouncing around and managing Wing when Jacob [Johnson, Wing Hospital Manager] had a day off, and managing Bay State when Greg or Jay had a day off…. But I was doing weekend managing and Bay State Lot managing. I didn’t really have a home until I started managing Wing full-time, which was probably 10 months after I came home, in late 2010. I was at Wing for almost a year. I became Regional Manager in June 2011. It was a little bit of a rough start. This isn’t the easiest region to take over. Obviously we started here. We’ve been doing it for years. As time went on I started absorbing more of the responsibilities, the schedule, etc.

When you started here you were working at some of our older accounts, Wesson, Delaney House… Talk about some of the changes and expansion that you’ve seen the company go through since then.

When I started we all had to wait by the fax machine at Wesson for our schedule to come out, which was hand-written. Shortly after I started, the online scheduling program came out, which is an amazing piece of software. It can do so much. Obviously the growth that we’ve had since I started here; we were probably at 100 employees and now we’re at 600. That’s something. We had Bay State and UMASS in Worcester and some Restaurants and the Mountains in Vermont, and that was as big as we were. Now we’re all the way to Buffalo and down to the Bronx. The company has really streamlined everything, communication. The Franklin Covey system has made a big improvement. Working in Albany for as long as I did, it was hard to stay up to date on what was going on here in Western Massachusetts. For a short time we didn’t have the newsletter, which I missed and I think a lot of people did, too. The newsletter is definitely a great way to keep everybody on the same page. We were doing something called the Weekly Spotlight where Tim Duval would send out a quick email every weekend, a compliment we got or something. But the newsletter is great. My 4dx [My 4 Disciplines of Execution] is great. The expansion within the office is definitely great. When I started we had maybe four to six people in the office. Now it’s much larger. It helps out as a whole. It frees up a lot of time.The administrative staff takes a huge burden off of not only the regional managers but the directors of the company. That helps to keep the company moving in the right direction.

Nick (far right) pictured with other VPA Regional Managers and company executives. (Back row: Tim Duval, Director of HR; Allen Klinger, CT Regional Manager; Tim Graney, VP of Operations; Angela Chagnon, Senior VP of Operations; Ted Chagnon, President; Nick Schloesser, Western MA Regional Manager. Front: Nolan Skower, former Eastern MA Regional Manager; Brian Hiltpold, Albany Regional Manager; Jeff Sosnowich, Central MA Regional Supervisor.)

Nick (far right) pictured with other VPA Regional Managers and company executives at the incorporation of the Franklin Covey system. (Back row: Tim Duval, Director of HR; Allen Klinger, CT Regional Manager; Tim Graney, VP of Operations; Angela Chagnon, Senior VP of Operations; Ted Chagnon, President; Nick Schloesser, Western MA Regional Manager. Front: Nolan Skower, former Eastern MA Regional Manager; Brian Hiltpold, Albany Regional Manager; Jeff Sosnowich, Central MA Regional Supervisor.)

Can you talk about your personal progression that resulted from your growth within the company, going from valet, to assistant manager, to regional manager? What were some of the steps that you took to work your way up?

The number one thing that I look for when I’m moving my own staff up, and what I feel like was recognized within me, is you have to have leadership potential. I can recognize it easily. It was recognized in me. You have to have a good work ethic. I worked for somebody who has the best work ethic I’ve probably ever seen, Ted [Chagnon, President of VPA]. That’s something that I think every manager recognizes in his employees and feels that was recognized within him.

Did you face any challenges during your progression throughout these different roles?

As much as we try to get a handbook for this kind of stuff, there are some situations that are going to come up that we just don’t have any training for. Sometimes you’ve just got to wing it and do what makes sense and learn your way as you go. If any of my team gets stuck, they call me and I’m usually able to take care of it. If it’s something I’ve never seen before, I’ll call Tim Graney [VP of Operations] or Tim Duval [Director of Human Resources]. You still have somebody a little more experienced over you. And if I need to get a hold of the president of the company, I can. That’s really important. But you roll with it as you go and you learn your way. You can’t prepare for everything in one orientation or reading the handbook. You just kind of get out there and see what’s going on and figure out the best way to run your account. As you have problems, deal with them the best you can and if you don’t feel like you’re able to deal with them the right way, you always have somebody there to support you.

In dealing with different situations that you weren’t prepared for and having to come up with a solution on the spot, what motivated you to overcome those obstacles and continue your progression?

I’m a pretty competitive person so I see any kind of challenge as an opportunity to improve myself and gain more experience. I want to learn from everything I can. I want to be that guy that people can call and know what’s going on and what to do.


Have you had any rewarding experiences or accomplishments, whether as a valet or a manager, that stand out?

When I go out in the field and work a valet shift I feel rewarded when I go home. Customer service is something that I really enjoy doing deep down. I get a little pent up when I’m sitting here in the office on my computer and on the phone. When I go home from being in the office all day I definitely won’t feel as rewarded as I do if I go home from working an actual valet shift. I think that’s something that nobody gets away from; good customer service. You don’t have to do anything major like push somebody out of the way that’s about to get run over, but just helping somebody out and getting them a wheelchair and taking time to show them that you’re there to care for them. You can see people recognize that when you come across them. There are times where I went above and beyond and went out of my way to help somebody out, but even just doing something simple for them makes me feel rewarded.

What do you like most about working for VPA?

The camaraderie, the family feel. I grew up with some of these guys. We’re definitely a family here. I like the job, even at its basic level. I like what I’m doing now. I like that I’ve been able to constantly get a change of pace and a change of scenery. I think that makes everything seem fresh. The opportunity of starting a new account obviously freshens it up. Going to Nantucket over the summer was awesome. It’s always evolving. It’s always changing. I think that’s a good thing.

Nick (pictured second from right) enjoying the camaraderie of VPA at the 2011 USO "Friends of the Forgotten Heroes" Golf Tournament with coworkers Mike Arsenault, Jay Guzman, and Jose Guzman.

Nick (pictured second from right) enjoying the camaraderie of VPA at the 2011 USO “Friends of the Forgotten Heroes” Golf Tournament with coworkers Mike Arsenault, Jay Guzman, and Jose Guzman.

What advice would you give to a new employee who is interested in advancement opportunities?

You’ve got to stick with it. Things aren’t always going to happen when you’re ready for them, but if you continue to show a strong work ethic, as soon as an opportunity comes along it will be there for you. It was frustrating for me when I came back to Springfield and didn’t really have much to do, but you just have to have patience. The company is going in the right direction. We’re getting more and more opportunities as opposed to less. That provides motivation to someone who’s looking to move up.


Through the Ranks: Dustin Hildebrant

dustin hildebrant

Dustin recently came to our main office for some hands-on training.

Dustin Hildebrant has been with VPA since 2006.  Since the start of his employment, Dustin has played an instrumental role in many areas of the company. He assisted with the start up of a new account in the Bronx, NY and helped out in Rochester, NY. In 2009 Dustin was promoted and relocated to manage Vernon Downs. During his time at Vernon he continously scored 100% on his shop audits, he never had an at-fault accident at his account and often drove two hours to help out another account. In 2012 Dustin was promoted to also manage Tioga Downs.

We sat down with Dustin to ask him a few questions on his experience with VPA.

What has it been like transitioning from a small account to managing a much larger account?

Since transitioning to Tioga there has been a lot more scheduling, more cars to move and it is more challenging. I like the challenge and am learning more.  Every day it gets smoother. I am from Tioga so I get to be with my family and watch my nieces grow up. I am happy to be back home.

L to R: Security/EMT officer, Chris Hannan, with Dustin Hildebrant

L to R: Security/EMT officer, Chris Hannan, with Dustin Hildebrant

What has been the most memorable moment for you since working at VPA?

Winning employee of the month in September was a great acomplishment for me.

Dustin won this award for helping out during a more stressful situation. While managing, he was the first response to a man going through cardiac arrest.  When the Security/ EMT Officer arrived it was clear he was going to need help giving the man CPR.  Dustin was quick to offer his assistance. The Security Officer was more than grateful for Dustin’s help.  He wrote a letter to our President and Western NY Regional Manager to express his appreciation.  “I wanted you to know that Dustin’s help that day was invaluable and appreciated beyond words.” 

Right: HR Manager Mark Macero presenting Dustin with his Employee of the Month Award

Right: HR Manager Mark Macero presenting Dustin with his Employee of the Month Award

What do you like about working for VPA?

It’s a great company to work for, there is a lot of room for advancement whether you’re the bottom guy or the top guy. I love to be out outdoors. I am a people person, I love to talk to the older customers, they have good stories. Overall there are a lot of incentives in the company. There is a lot VPA does outside of just work. Many of the events we’ve gone to – boxing events, golf tournaments, concerts – are a blast.  The chance to do these things you don’t see from a lot of companies. That is one huge thing that this company does that separates us from other companies.

What have you learned since starting with VPA?

Dedication and hard work will move you through the ranks. I started as a valet attendant and then moved away and now am back managing two accounts. I am working towards advancing in the company. I am young so I have a lot of room to grow.

What advice would you give to new employees who are looking to be promoted within the company?

Keep your head up and smile constantly and you will be recognized.  Hard work stands out and they’re the ones that will be promoted and will have a strong future with VPA. If you work hard you won’t be stuck as a valet attendant or feel trapped.  The more we grow, the more accounts we get, the more managers and captains we can promote.

Year End Review

This past year brought on a lot of positive changes and growth for VPA! Join us as we reflect on some of our top 2012 moments!

VPA Implements Employee of the Month Program

employee of the month

2012 Winners:

February: Ryan Weser, Rochester NY, March: Matt Dell’Olio, UMass Medical Center, April: John Delago, Capital Region, May: Ricky Knorring, UMass Medical Center ER, June: Jon Clark, Lowell General Hospital, July: Mike Klinger, Albany Medical Center, September: Dustin Hildebrant, Vernon Downs, October: Yuriy Syromyatnk, Hartford Hospital and CCMC, November: Steve McGuinness, UMass Medical Center

To read their full stories check out our Facebook page!


     VPA Featured in Business West

business westVPA was featured on the cover of Business West,  a premier business publication that discusses business trends, news and information in the Western MA region.  The issue that came out on Monday July 16th premieres a 4 page story on VPA.  The story gives a great insight into Valet Park of America’s past, present, and future.  It discusses the expansion our company has had in the past 20 plus years and what to expect from VPA in the future.


Mike Arsenault Wins 2012 Howdy Award

Mike A-Mike Arsenault won the Howdy Award in the transportation category on May 15th at the Log Cabin.  The Howdy Award is presented by the Chamber of Commerce to a person who exemplifies excellence in hospitality.

Check out more of Mike’s story on our Moments That Matter page.


Moments That Matter Award

Above L to R: Ricky Knorring and Micky Dumais tied  to win the Moments That Matter Award. Right: Our crew at the 2012 Six Flags trip.

Above L to R: Ricky Knorring and Micky Dumais tied to win the Moments That Matter Award.

To reward our top employees, we implemented a Moments That Matter Award.   All employees who attended our Labor Day picnic at Six Flags New Engalnd voted for their top pick.  Five nominees were in the running,  Mike Klinger, AMC Manager, Micky Dumais, UMMC Manager, Jon Clark, LGH Manager, Ricky Knorring, UMMC ER Captain, and Mike Arsenault, BMC Cancer Center Manager.  After tallying all the votes, we had two employees tie for first: Micky Dumais, UMMC Manager, and Ricky Knorring, UMMC ER Captain. The runners up won gift cards and both winners won iPads.


Employees Buzz Off Their Hair To Raise Money For Pediatric Cancer

459842_477380678944630_232214616_o[1]On June 3rd Tim Duval, Nolan Skowera, Nick Schloesser, Kevin Black, Micky Dumais, and Mike Klinger buzzed off their hair for The One Mission Kid’s Cancer Buzz-Off.  The event  took place at Gillette Stadium and had over 450 people signed up to help this great cause.  Proceeds go to pediatric cancer patients and their families at Boston Children’s Hospital. Our team of managers were able to raise $2,552.25!


Gabe along side our Albany Medical Center Team

Gabe along side our Albany Medical Center Team

Albany Medical Center Valet Team Suprises Young Patient

Our AMC team heard that one of the young patients was having his last chemo treatment. Our valet team made t-shirts to congratulate Gabe. He arrived with tears streaming down his face when he saw all the guys wearing shirts for him that said “Our Hero” and “Gabe’s Last Day of Treatment.” This truly was a heartwarming moment.


VPA Launches New Brand


To bring us into a new era of growth, VPA partnered with a branding company to update our look.  In 2012 we launched a new logo, website and slogan, “Driving You Forward”. We also have been actively using our Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Blog as a communication tool for our employees, customers and clients.

Check out our original brand launch blog post and website blog post.


We are excited for another great year in 2013!

Through the Ranks: Mike Prosciak

Mike Prosciak is the Operations Manager in the Springfield office of Valet Park of America. He started here as a valet in the late 1990s while he was in college and left the company after he graduated to pursue a career in finance. About two years ago he returned to VPA when the need for an Operations Manager arose. Mike has a great perspective to work with in the operations department since he has experience working in the field as a valet. Recently, we sat down with Mike to get the scoop on how he was able to progress through the ranks at VPA.

What is your current job title, and what you do for the company now?

Currently my title is Operations Manager, which would be nailing down the day to day operations on the actual function of certain accounts, whether it be valet or transportation, and going out getting accounts. I wear many different hats. I also work in client relations, employee relations, and quality control. Every day is a much different day. You never know what to expect.

How did you get started at the company? Did you start as a valet?

Yes, back in the late 90s, myself and Brian Hiltpold, who now is the Regional Manager of the Capital Region in New York and Vermont, were working at the Delaney House in Holyoke, Massachusetts valeting for them. Then Ted Chagnon [Owner of Valet Park of America] came in and actually got that account, so we started working at the Delaney House for Ted and VPA. From that point on we kind of grew with the company. I went from doing that to weekend manager and going around and checking on various work sites.

So you were working at the Delaney House internally as a valet?

Exactly. They did all their valet in-house. Ted was trying to expand his business and collaborated with the owner of the Delaney House to outsource their valet service through VPA.

From the Delaney House, did you start working at other locations?

Yes, I didn’t just do the Delaney House. I was doing Private Parties, working at the Yankee Peddler, Hotel Northampton, and Baystate Medical Center. Obviously it was much smaller then, but primarily in Western Massachusetts is where we would work.

Then you started getting into sales?

Yes. I kind of slowly learned the business. I learned about the customer service aspect, and one thing led to another. I had a good rapport with the company and I wanted to grow with them, so that was the next natural progression.

Mike in his valet days directing traffic at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, MA.

After that, I finished college and I did leave for five or six years. Brian Hiltpold who is my good friend stayed working here the whole time. As I mentioned he’s now a regional manager. So I kind of had ties with VPA that way. I always knew what was going on with the company. I knew they were doing well. I came back to VPA and in May it’ll be two years. I ran into Ted and it was kind of meant to be. One thing led to another and I came in here for a couple interviews and he offered me a position. I was excited to come aboard because it’s a growing company, as everyone can see. Every month we’re getting new accounts, which is great. He basically brought me on board to help with the growth and expansion of the company.

So it’s good that you have that insider perspective from starting off at the valet level and now working as an operations manager.

Yeah. In most businesses when people start at the entry level and work their way up they get to know every aspect of the business. Those are the ones that are most successful. Having been in the company for such a long time I know the customer service, the back of the house, the front of the house… a little bit of everything.

Are there any big changes that you’ve seen the company go through during your time here, as far as expansion, etc.? 

When I left back in the early 2000s they were still growing. I think they had maybe 200 employees then, and when I started I want to say there were probably 60 employees. So there was a lot of growth then. But it was amazing to see that we’re all over the Northeast now, with over 500 employees. It’s nice to see that with the clients that we are getting now, a lot of it is referrals because they’ve used our service in other places. We pride ourselves on customer service, that being the number one thing that we focus on as a business. That’s what I like about working with this company. It’s nice to see that other people recognize that. I think that’s why we’re so successful with getting referrals and why we continue to grow.

What were some of the steps you took towards progressing within the company? Were there any situations where you took initiative that helped you move up into the sales aspect?

I was always willing to go the extra mile. I’ve always been a pretty outgoing person. I worked in the restaurant business when I was younger. It basically takes hard work and determination. I like to try to do the best I can and whatever project I’m working on I try to get it done the best I can and help the company succeed in all their goals as well as my own. Since I’ve been back I’ve also taken most of our Leadership Development Courses, which are great, not only for me but for the up and coming future leaders of VPA.

Mike going the extra mile while assisting a customer at the Log Cabin.

Have you had any memorable or rewarding experiences during your employment with VPA? Any accomplishments within the company that you’re especially proud of, as a valet or a manager?

Just getting customer letters and feedback from people. Rochester General Hospital for instance, going up there and opening that account and getting positive feedback from the people we work for up there. That in itself is a great gratification, just to see your hard work pay off. And for all the guys who work there as well, to know they’re doing such a good job. I appreciate that. I work hard, they’re working hard, and everybody’s happy.

What are some things you like about working for VPA?

Every day is different for the position I’m in. I’m always doing something different. Every day is a surprise. I feel like you never know what you’re going to get, which I like. The other great thing is the company culture, which is fantastic. Everyone gets along outside of work. They get together, go out, have fun. That’s a nice thing to have. I think for some people the last thing they want to do when they leave work is hang out with anyone they work with, and that’s not the way it is here. The other thing I like about it is I get to travel a lot, too. It’s nice because I’m not behind the desk every day. Some days I’m in Western New York or on Nantucket Island… It has its pluses.

Mike Prosciak with his wife Carrie, current Regional Manager Brian Hiltpold, current VP of Operations Tim Graney, and Tim’s wife, Sue at Cara Mia’s, circa 2001.

What advice would you give to a new employee who is looking to be promoted within the company?

To be in this industry you’ve got to be customer-service driven. If you don’t like being around people and talking with people maybe you should look in a different direction. It takes hard work and being friendly and outgoing. You’ll go places, not only here, but in life in general.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

It’s just been nice being back and seeing old faces. I’m excited about where the company is going and where we’re headed. I’m looking forward to being a part of that for years to come.